Rebecca Masinter

It's Very Good! Simchas Torah - Braishis Message for Mothers

Good moed! Very soon we will celebrate Simchas Torah when we finish reading the last Parshah and start again with the story of creation in Braishis. The beginning of the Torah holds a very special message to mothers who have all worked hard, not only on our own spiritual journey from Elul through Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkos, and Simchas Torah, but also in creating a Yom Tov atmosphere, physically and spiritually for our families. It’s a huge amount of work and we should take some time to appreciate everything we've done for our families this month. Each step each woman took to make Yom Tov special is precious and valuable and without a doubt made a profound difference in the physical and spiritual realities of her family. Perhaps you're feeling inadequate now. Maybe you remember the day you were exhausted, the meal you messed up as I did, (Yes, I really forgot to put the cholent in my crockpot last week!). There are lots of ways we can look at this Tishrei and beat ourselves up. But the Torah teaches us a lesson in Braishis which is exactly opposite this mentality. In Parshas Breishis Hashem created a magnificent world in six days, yet there were setbacks. On the first day Hashem created light, but Rashi quotes a medrash telling us that this light was so spiritually intense that it actually needed to be put away for the tzadikim in Olam Haba. The light of creation couldn’t be used in this world as is. On the third day Hashem created fruit trees and He said that the bark of each tree should have the same taste as the fruit itself, but again the medrash tells us, this plan is not what happened. The trees produced fruit, but their bark did not have the fruit’s taste. Reality is not as special as the plan. What about the fourth day? Hashem had a plan for two great lights, created equal in size, yet that idea as well was not realized as the moon’s size had to be reduced. Yet despite all these setbacks, at the end of the six days of Creation it says, “Hashem saw all that He had made and behold it was very good.” Not “good enough” or even plain “good”, but Tov Meod, very good. Rav Avraham Pam shared that this is an important lesson for us. Hashem didn’t focus on the parts of creation that didn’t go according to plan or could have been better, instead He stressed the positive in what was accomplished. It is Tov Meod. Full stop. The message Hashem is giving us is that In this world, nothing is perfect, and every accomplishment has its failures as well as its successes. Everything we manage to do makes us aware of all we didn’t manage to do. There are always setbacks and problems. This is the reality of our world. The challenge for us is to look at what there is and see “Tov Meod”, it is very good. It may be more instinctive for us to identify what went wrong, what we didn’t do as we hoped, but the message from Parshas Breishis is to not let those failures overshadow all the successes. So yes, I’m sure we can all identify what didn’t go as we had hoped over this Yom Tov season, but let’s not go there. There is so much that we all did that is beautiful, magnificent, impressive, and meaningful. Stop and recognize it. Go outside and look at your beautiful Sukkah. Look over your menu lists and remember that one recipe that came out terrifically. Remember that one family walk, game, or story, that one tefilah that you connected with. Let’s take time to reflect on all that we did right during Yom Tov and internalize it as “Tov Meod”, very good. Good Yom Tov! /